Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day Column
November 24, 2011
Opinion/Editorial (Section A-22)
To read the op-ed in its entirety, click on the highlighted article title above

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The New Face of Publishing

Publishing models and platforms are changing at a rapid pace.  E-books sales already account for more than 10% of all books sold - and some in the industry claim this statistic is much higher than actually reported.  With the release of more affordable e-readers, lower priced Kindles and the launch of the new Kindle Fire from Amazon, some say that figure is bound to double by the end of 2011.  In a recent article featured in Shelf Awareness, is reporting that Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch said the company, "expects the size of the print book market to decrease by a third by 2015, while the e-book market grows by 700%."

With that in mind, I am pleased to host Nicole Langan of Tribute Books for an extended Q&A regarding her exciting new publishing venture.  Nicole started Tribute Books in 2004. She has successfully published fiction and nonfiction books (in print and electronic form) that have gone on to win a host of industry awards. But for 2012, she has decided that Tribute Books will now concentrate solely on publishing great new Young Adult (YA) books via e-publishing platforms only.  

Kathleen GerardWhat inspired you to make this big change to YA only e-books?

Nicole Langan:  Our main reason is the explosion in popularity of e-readers such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad. Over the course of 2011, we've watched our ebook sales outpace our print sales by 2 to 1. The under $5 price point of most of our titles and the ease of purchase and delivery are surely contributing factors.

On a business level, the young adult genre sells especially if it is well written and has a paranormal romance theme. On a marketing level, the devotion of the young adult fan base is unparalleled. On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy a good young adult novel and review many on my blog at

KGWhat kind of author are you looking for?

NL: My preference is for damn good writing, the particular topic is secondary in importance. However, books written with a series in mind or those that delve into the paranormal will have a slight edge. Manuscripts that have already been professionally edited will receive greater consideration. Our preference is to work with authors who have already been published through a royalty-paying press and who know the ins and outs of book promotion. An established social media platform is a must, and we will not consider writers who do not have a well-followed blog, Facebook page or Twitter account.

My hope is that we are able to recruit some talented writers of well-written, well-crafted stories in order to develop an eager fan base for the titles we publish. We want readers to be excited about the ebooks we produce. Young adult authors have the most devoted fan followings out there, and we'd like to introduce that audience to a whole new host of talent.

KGWhat is your promotion strategy?

NLI am a big believer in the power of social media. I even conduct monthly blog tours for outside publishers and authors in order to help them increase the online presence of a book. Book bloggers are a powerful force in the book industry. With more and more book stores closing and book review columns being cut from major newspapers, readers are depending on bloggers to help them find the books they want to read. They are turning to the internet as a reference point to fill this information gap.

In my opinion, social networking is the bread and butter of any author's promotional efforts. Without it, it's like trying to paddle upstream without a canoe. Readers want to connect with the person who wrote the book. They crave interaction with an author. Nothing beats getting a writer to comment on a blogger's book review post or getting a personalized thank you tweet from your favorite author. The days of authors being isolated from their fans is over. They're now able to build an online following and receive instant feedback for their work. They have the opportunity to take part in creating their own literary community.

We try to keep an active online presence with our web site,
Facebook, Twitter and blog. We'
re looking for those who love young adult literature to join us for the ride.

KG:  What are your submission requirements?

NL: Interested authors can submit their manuscripts via email to There will be no charge for the authors we select to work with, and they will receive 50% of the net profits of their ebook sales in quarterly royalty payments. We're looking for Microsoft Word documents with a maximum of 350 pages of text with no photos, charts, illustrations, graphs, etc. The ebooks will be available through Kindle, Nook, iPad, Smashwords and as PDF downloads through They will retail between $2.99 and $4.95.

KGWhat is your background in publishing?

NL: I've spent roughly the last 12 years in the publishing world. I have a B.A. summa cum laude in English and Communications. From 1999-2004, I went from being an intern to an editorial assistant to an associate editor of a regional magazine. In 2004, I started Tribute Books. Since that time, I've worked with dozens of authors, illustrators, photographers and editors in publishing over 30 books. Some of our books have gone on to win awards such as the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year and the Mom's Choice Award while others were endorsed by PBS and The Thoreau Society. In 2012, we'll embark on a new transition becoming solely an e-publisher of young adult titles.

KG: Thanks for stopping by and sharing more information, Nicole. I wish you and Tribute Books much continued success!

Please note: Tribute Books intends to publish a total of twelve (12) books in 2012.

Contact information for Tribute Books:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Between Heaven and Mirth

Why is God often viewed as a joyless judge? Why does the aim of religion sometimes seem like one of gloom and seriousness? Issues like these are what Jesuit priest James Martin (author of My Life with the Saints and culture editor of America magazine) addresses in the compelling and extremely entertaining Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life.

Martin fully understands that some religious organizations seem more concerned with sin than with virtue. In Catholic culture, for instance, suffering is more often linked to spirituality than is joy. But he believes that God wants us to experience a joy-filled life, and thus his book becomes "an invitation, a challenge... to rethink the importance of humor and laughter in the life of believers" who seek to live out their spirituality in the modern world.

Martin delivers an uplifting, affirming, interfaith testament of how joy is the foundation of the spiritual life. He refreshingly veers away from dogma and scholarly arguments to present an accessible historical examination of humor via the Bible (notably the Psalms and the Gospels), the lives of the saints and biographies of other notable spiritualists. He illustrates how the parables contain bursts of the absurd and "comedic hooks," and how numerous Biblical passages portray the playfulness of Christ and those who encountered Him.

Between Heaven and Mirth is an enriching, inspiring read, leavened with humorous personal stories, jokes and anecdotes that give believers strategies to deepen their faith by cultivating a sense of delight and good humor in their own lives and church communities.

HarperOne, $25.99, Hardcover, 978-0062024268, 272 pp.
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review (in a slightly different form) on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (10/11/11), click HERE.